China

Here’s the Thing about Democracy

Hello everybody,

One of modern history’s most famous enfant terribles, Winston Churchill is quoted:

“Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

– Winston Churchill

Or is it? I, as most European kids my generation, was raised in blind belief in democracy. Really, in retrospect it was some kind of a religion. A religion where there was only one dogma, and who ever would question it would be an outcast. A individual considered utterly insentient a waste of time to discussed with. Questioning democracy was unquestionable. And so it was to me, in a way, loving democracy and blindly defending it whenever possible was kind bred into me.

“Democracy is itself, a religious faith. For some it comes close to being the only formal religion they have.”

– E. B. White

Of course for a pretty good reason given what had happened in my country a mere half century ago. Democracy, I was made to understand, is a beautiful gift one has to cherish and take care of, for loosing it was the worst that could possibly happen and, certainly, the end to all freedom. Well, actually, the end to all the life I was used to.

Then came 9/11 and afterwards came the Patriot Act and alike bills all over the world. With it came the end of many privileges of democratic societiesand a widespread questioning of the extend to which “democratic” nations could still be considered democratic. The US for instance, where apparently elections were stolen from the elected president in order to bring another man to power. Where people were denied basic civil rights because of a crime they were merely suspected of or, even worse, just because of their skin colour or an interest group they belonged to. It came a time where zillions of people all over the world rallied for peacehowever remained unheard by their elected democratic leaders. Unthinkable things have happened during those last years and they have happened in front of all of our eyes. However for one reason or another suddenly no knight in shiny armour could be found to stand up for our all-holied democracy.

Whilst everybody who knows a little about education of children, knows that being a good rule model is the most important thing to do. Every parent knows he cannot make his kid obey rules he is seen ignoring. However no democratic leader I have seen doing the “free elections”-rally to Backwardistan your random challenged country lately could be bothered to be a good example of living democracy in his own nation. Let’s face it: People in the western world just don’t give a shit about democracy any longer. They don’t attend elections. They don’t engage in democracy or government (either because they can’t be bothered to or because their “elected” leaders can’t be bothered to). Yet all of this doesn’t prevent any of us for a split second of going of to every given “non-democratic” nation and praising democracy as if it alone was the guarantee for any given utopia you could imagine.

Might it be that it is a little daring to claim so wholeheartedly democracy was the only acceptable form of governmentfor all of the world’s nations regardless their culture? I mean … if we really do belief in democracy, why can’t we vote against it? And why don’t we grant that very right to every other given people? The only thing the 20th century’s global raid for democracy has produced, is a number of pseudo-democracies, where there are elections held with a known outcome. Where the party of possible leaders is so limited due to socialisation, ethnic structures etc. that it just doesn’t make any differencewho’s elected in the end. Is this really better for people then living with the way of government they had beforeand had possibly had working for millenia?

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.”

– M.K. Ghandi

For quite a bunch of countries democracy really seems to work pretty well. Or let’s say it provides the people with exactly that government they deserve. But where different ethnic or religious groups with different objectives and philosophies can be found sharing one nation it gets difficult. Then democracy is turned into as abstruse sets of rules as for who has to be represented in parliament through whom as can be seen in Lebanon. Positive discrimination still is discrimination, guys.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

– Th. Jefferson

Perhaps this is one of the biggest issues of modern democracy: It works well for majorities, but if you’re a minority you’re screwed. Whilst there’s all that talk about democracy guaranteeing everybody’s freedom I just don’t get it where freedom is when, as a member of a minority group, I have to step back from my rights, my way of living, because the majority group has another philosophy towards it. Just think about this: If the whole world was really democratic as a single meta-nation we would be governed by Chinesefor Chinese are the most numerous and could elect their government as world government. Is that really desirable? Do you want your country to end up like Tibet just because its smaller then China?

Even if people don’t like it: Tending for democracy, freedom, all of that parcel we call “western” means questioning it. Looking for points of friction, for issues we have to care for. In a way those challenging democracy most are, in the end, its most important supporters.

yours,

Migdalit

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China on the March

Hello everybody,

as some of you might remember I tend to be highly sceptical about China. I remember once I had a discussion with a good Israeli friend of mine about Israel and Europe and Israel and China and she claimed she would prefer an China to Europe for “China at least wouldn’t actively get us all killed.” I objected telling her that China might not get Israel off the map for a reason but they wouldn’t care at all if they helped somebody else doing it as long as it was for their benefit. Well, it didn’t take much more then a couple of weeks until China sold off some fighter jets (at least I think it was fighter jets … has been about two years now) that fascinatingly resembled Israeli ones quite a lot, to – well guess whom – Israel’s best buddy Iran.

For historic reason time goes another way in China. Chinese don’t plan in three or four years – as has happened in Europe lately – but rather in four or five decades, if not generations. Guess why they have been buying pretty much every given resource off the world market for some years now. Guess why they have been constructing giant underground tanks for some time now. Because they managed to think ahead. Which of course doesn’t make them any nicer pals at all. They’re still top 1 when it comes to capital punishments. And I guess when it comes to human rights issues they aren’t far from top 1 either. The thing about China is they just don’t give a damn about anything but whatever they perceive as their greater goal. And men are just as much a resource – one they have plenty of – as coal or oil.

It has its pros too. Lately a reader of an Austrian newspaper I read pointed out how China could be the one element that might keep the global economic crisis from turning into a new wave of global poverty as seen in 1929. Just take the US Dollar, he wrote, China has bought quite a lot of it and they won’t have it loose its value as long as they need it to stabilize their currency. The same is true for their export oriented economy and – of course – their long term plans – what ever they may be. So China might be the one world power that – without caring about any kind of sacrifice they have to make lest any morals – would take every means necessary to stabilize the world economy before the whole crisis reaches some point of no return. And, if we have a look at history, on the long run thereby it might even be China that prevents a World War III.

Of course knowing how many US Dollars China owns also leads to the inconvenient idea of what might happen if China sold off all those US Dollars at once. And now thing what this would mean for the USA. Guess why they, in spite of their wish to be “World Police” again keep on looking the other way whenever China chooses to ignore human rights again (simplified yet not the less true). Mid- to long-term China has already muted the US and, through economic bounds, searches to mute Europe as well. Which, as far as I am concerned, works out in parts as long as the European self consciousness stays as little as it is now (which could change rapidly once Europe is out of the global economic crisis and realizes how well it has done coping with it) and even more as long as Europe is focusing on “soft” (economic) instead of “hard” (military) power and has no interest in taking over the US’ old role as “World Police”. Nevertheless Europe hasn’t shut up as much as China might wish for lately. European remarks on Chinese human rights issues are a matter of regular press attention and the Dalei Lama is treated at least as good as any foreign Head of State in most European nations. Doesn’t change a thing of course but at least it reminds China that the world doesn’t belong to them – yet.

The world however isn’t just Europe and the US – “first world”. It’s the “third world” too. And here China has stared a charm bombing equalling Tom Cruise’s towards Germany with “Valkyrie”. Especially the countries of Africa have been subject to China’s shopping tour for allies. Chinese officials have been travelling those countries and, other then Europeans, made them feel equal. The emphasis might well be “made them feel”, yet for Africans, which have always only been treated as either servants or subjects to be sorry for, it’s no wonder it did the trick. And though China’s bonds with African countries might not yet show a positive balance on the long run they sure will. Just think natural resources – including water and soil -, human resources and – of course – strategic points.

How far China’s Africa mission has already come can be seen here where, pressurized by China, South Africa – still role model to many other African States – has denied the Dalei Lama an entry visa and hasn’t even cared to invent any excuses. It might sound like a small thing but think about it – a foreign nation interfering with who enters your territory and who not – does that still sound like an “independent” country?

Sometimes I feel on a unconscious layer the world is splitting up into pacts again and the Chinese one’s for sure growing fastly …

keep an eye on it!

yours

Migdalit

This could fill the Summer Media Hole

Hey there,

did you notice the fail of  IndyMac Bank on Friday in the USA? I read about it by pure accident on the headlines but merely two hours later I could hardly findit anywhere nor could I in the European news channels today. Actually I had a hard time googleing some article to link for you. It’s hard to believe though that this has been due to unimportance for the closure is referred to by Reuters as the “second-largest financial institution in the U.S. history to close”. I guess this should be worth a headline especially in summer where the media traditionally has little to report on.

Anyhow what happened apparently is that due to worries about the bank’s liquidity its depositors withdrew their money these days which ultimately forced the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to close the bank on Friday in order to save people’s savings.

[…]

Depositors have been withdrawing cash at an elevated pace since late June, when Schumer questioned IndyMac’s ability to survive the housing crisis.

In the following 11 business days, depositors withdrew more than $1.3 billion from their accounts, the OTS said.

[…] (source)

Later on Reuters adds:

The takeover of IndyMac capped a tumultuous day for U.S. financial markets that saw stocks slide on a surging oil price and renewed fears about the stability of the top two home financing providers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

You knowI am not very much into conspiracy theories but for some reason I start asking myself whether it is possible that here news where kept from people for it might make them panic if they realised that financial breakdowns are happening on a regular basis these days. And a panic of this type plus growing distrust in banks could very well cause a lot of more damage. Remember it hasn’t been too long since major bank failures in France and elsewhere. Plus take into account that especially (yet not exclusively) with the USA a whole nation is living on debts with a lifestyle it can’t actually afford anymore. Not a nice situation, not at all.

And with a world (and especially US) economy so much on the line this is where China enters the stage: It not only takes part in the rise of raw material prices by buying huge amounts of them (there have been reports that China’s building huge vessels to store raw oil and other products vital to their economy yet I wouldn’t know about proof). Oil is not the only material of which there might be too little of on the long run. Add iron and steel, gold (used a lot for IT-technologies) and others. And of course it gets worse: China holds a considerable amount of US Dolars – as every country’s national treasury holds foreign currencies – which’s sell-out could ultimately ruin the US’ economy within a couple of months or less. You really don’t need world conspiracy to get a global network of power against each other.

Consider this next time you think about “why doesn’t XY help in XY?” …

yours,

Migdalit

“We didn’t know about it …!” (April 5th, 2008)

posted on Yahoo, 5 April 2008

Hey there,

So I finally found some time to cry out about Tibet. What I’ve acutally been feeling like for a week now or so. I guess I needn’t tell you the facts cause TV’s full of them and being nice 21st century guys and gals we are all consuming our dayly CNN (or whatever station is distributing the CNN-Information).

What I don’t get is what the heck those diplomats of the so called “civilized” western world are thinking. Well actually I do get it, but I don’t want to ‘caus it’s just too disgusting. I guess it’d be something like: “China does already have a technology which hasn’t yet been bombed back to stoneage. We better don’t mess with them. And anyhow they send all those decent toys that keep our health branch running so well.”

But what they actually should be thinking would be something like: “Hell, there’s a damn genocide on the move.” [yep, I do know it’s meant to be jus (lol) ‘cultural’ genocide yet I am not entirely sure about that fact …] “We better get things stopped now.” Or why do you think foreigners have been expelled with such precaution? Because China doesn’t want anybody to see how they ignore Tibetan’s human rights? Damn we all do know! We’ve been knowing for ages!

But of course foreign diplomats don’t do anything at all. Those who at least have tiny balls might travel to Bejing and mention that they are concerned about what’s going on in Tibet and whether the Chinese might not consider letting media representatives back there or at least some human rights NGO or so. And then of course China tell’s them Tibet was an intern problem and they needn’t interfere with it which shuts up whatever diplomat dared to speak up as if caught by mommy with his hand in the candybox.

But wait a minute … what the hell makes Tibet an intern issue? Wasn’t Tibet supposed to be an independant state at some time? Like … sometime back in the last millenium it was …

Who cares? At long as that state or non-state or whatever ‘s not by any chance called “Palestine” nobody cares. They could build Auschwitz II for Tibetan monks and who’d care? Nobody who could actually change things, for sure. Perhaps the Dalei Lama should consider renaming Tibet to “Palestine” or so … or take a class in public diplomacy at PLO headquarters …

What I’d like to know: When one day – and it ought to be a faraway day – scientists go to Tibet to investigate the myth of the Tibetan culture and find mass graves and all it nees to make a decent genocide what’ll a Angela Merkel or a George W. Bush or a Nicolas Sarkozy or a Gordon Brown say? “I didn’t know about it …!”??? Does that sound somewhat familiar?

Anyway it should never come as far as that! Especially not with the Olympic Games in Bejing this summer. Aren’t they supposed to be a celebration of peace within the nations? What better possibility to put some pressure on China are people waiting for? But, as the Austrian sports foundation claimed: “It’s all about sports. We don’t want to participate in politics.” So perhaps I am wrong about the meaning behind the Olympic Games

Sorry guys, I can’t go on here. I feel like vomiting …

Tjana